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Rahi partakes in Middle East peace prayers in Italy

Pope Francis: Enough exploitation of the Middle East

Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Boutros al-Rahi participated alongside various heads of Eastern Churches in the ecumenical prayer for peace and cessation of wars and violence in the Middle East, led by Pope Francis in the Italian city of Bari.

Prayers were raised in several languages on the city's waterfront, chosen by Pope Francis for its geographical location overlooking the Middle East.

Patriarchs prayed to the Lord Almighty "to show His mercy and deliver His salvation in true peace to the peoples of the Middle East who are suffering from war, oppression and tyranny."

Prayers were raised as well for "Christians in the Middle East to be strong and lively communities, with their contributions to their societies and the entire Church being well-recognized."

The Pope focused in his prayers on the pressing need to end all exploitation of the Middle East.

"Our day begins with prayer, so that the divine light eliminates the darkness of the world. In light of Saint Nicolas, we lit the single torch, the symbol of the one church...for when you raise your hands to heaven in prayer, and when you reach out to your brethrens without searching for personal interests, the fire of the Holy Spirit is inflamed and the spirit of unity and peace shines," said Pope Francis.

In a visit to the "Cathedral of St. Nicholas", the Pope prayed with the heads of the Eastern churches on the tomb of the Saint coming from the East.

A two-and-a-half hour retreat was then held at the Basilica of St. Nicolas, during which the participating Patriarchs presented the situation in the Middle East and the various possible solutions.

In a word by Patriarch al-Rahi during the meeting, he stressed the need to ensure a dignified return of refugees to their homeland, and that the political crisis in Syria must be separated from this return.

The "Bari Encounter" was organized by the Council of Eastern Churches, headed by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, in cooperation with the Pontifical Council of Christian Unity headed by Cardinal Kurt Koch. Thousands of believers participated in the celebration of a permanent peace in the Middle East and unity among Christians in the spirit of the Eastern Churches.

Source: National News Agency